Third wave in Delhi? Rise in coronavirus cases sparks worries
Even as India has been performing well in October, as far as fresh coronavirus numbers are concerned, the National Capital has not been following the same trajectory since the last few days. New coronavirus cases have been rising worryingly in Delhi, sparking fears about a third wave. On Thursday, Delhi recorded 5,739 new cases, after registering 5,673 fresh infections a day before.
Delhi, governed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was first burdened by coronavirus cases in June, with 3,947 cases being reported on June 23 when the average daily tests hovered 17,000. The second wave came in September when 4,473 daily cases were reported on September 16. The daily testing average was over 60,000 tests. The cases being recorded recently are more than previous peaks.
For two consecutive days — on Wednesday and Thursday — Delhi breached the 5,000-mark, for the first time since the outbreak of the disease. Two days before that, Delhi recorded more than 4,000 fresh coronavirus cases.
Unsurprisingly, the spike is straining the healthcare infrastructure and burdening workers, who have been leading from the front since March. However, despite all factors pointing toward a third wave, state Health Minister Satyender Jain on Thursday said it was too early to say anything. "It is too early to call it the third wave just yet. But, it might be a possibility," he said.
Jain added that the spike wasn't entirely unexpected, as the temperatures are falling. He also said the government changed its strategy to meet the challenge. "Now, when a person tests positive, we also test his entire family and all his close contacts. We do this not just once but twice — the second time after four to five days," he disclosed.
"This (increased testing) could be a reason why the numbers are spiking. But it is the best strategy to contain this disease. We're hopeful that we will see good results soon. We have strengthened contact tracing as well," Jain said.
Yesterday, a high-level coronavirus review meeting with Union Health Ministry was held, wherein Delhi officials blamed pollution for the 46% rise in cases, as compared to the previous month. "Spike in cases was due to social gatherings during festivities, deteriorating air quality, increasing incidences of respiratory disorders, workplace infection clusters, and fatigue among frontline workers," Delhi's officials said, as per NDTV.
To note, the connection between air pollution, a recurring problem in Delhi, and coronavirus hasn't been ruled out by experts. Evidence suggests the toxic air could impact even the ones who defeated coronavirus months ago; aggravate the disease's transmission and also the risk of death. Doctors, including AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria, have advised those who recovered from coronavirus to get a flu shot.
Meanwhile, experts believe that Delhi's coronavirus spike is also a result of people's complacency. Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director at Max Healthcare, said people were not adhering to social distancing guidelines or wearing masks. "We must remember that the virus has not gone anywhere," he said. Separately, Giridhar R Babu, a member of ICMR's coronavirus task force, cited population movement, uninfected susceptible people, and testing as the reasons.